There's a book I recently added to my library, that once again makes a powerful presentation for the need for Spirit anointed preaching ( Spirit-Led Preaching, by Greg Heisler ). You know that type of preaching. The kind where you can't get by on talent, methodology, style or nice public speaking skills. Much of that type of preaching is predominant in mainstream churches, or even some of the Pentecostal churches we have today. However, it is not the way God intends to feed His sheep and direct their spiritual journey.
Nothing can compare with a prayerful pastor or teacher who listens to the Holy Spirit and obeys His direction in the Word.
For out it will come rivers of living water, that will give life to all that hear it. I don't care if your teaching a series of lessons, or a one time sermon. The God anointed Word breaks yokes of bondage and sets the captive free. There is substitute!
A week or two ago I preached in two churches ( which I do quite often ). The message I presented I preached for both churches, and truly was trusting God. For it was not a pretty outlined sermon or anything. However, I knew God wanted the Word I had to be preached. After the first service at an Episcopal church a lady came up to me and said " Thank you for that Word. " So I said, " Your welcome. " Then she asked, " Do you minister here often? " I informed her that I did and then she remarked, " You are some crazy preacher, but I know that was God. I better come to this church for I want to hear from Jesus. " LOL. I then let her know a bit about the church there and our fellowship at CGMF. She already is going to both. Isn't God good?
I have said all of that to say this. Remember in all you do to never leave Jesus out of the equation when it comes to your ministry. Also, understand that the Holy Spirit can operate in an extraordinary fashion and can illuminate things you would never otherwise be able to convey or teach. Take time in His presence and avoid all the shortcuts modern preaching employs with so many tools and outlines. Use them to make you better, do not to use them to fill in gaps when you just " don't feel like praying ". God wants to use you for His Glory, trust Him to give you understanding so you can see His Word come alive through you.
To make my point I want to share with you one of introductory portions of Mr. Heisler's book. I think it will encourage you soul. After you read it think about it and meditate on it awhile. You might not be Superman, but you are God's Man and Woman who He can transform into someone's super hero. That saves their life, and sets them on course toward powerful Kingdom living. Amen.
( From the Book )
Everybody needs a hero. My childhood hero of choice was Superman—faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive. It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s ——! I think the transformation of mild-mannered Clark Kent into the bold and courageous Superman was something everyone could identify with. Judging from outward appearances, Clark Kent wasn’t much to contend with. But we all knew what was underneath that shirt and tie. The “S” on his chest stood for the true power inside him.
Do preachers have a hidden S underneath their ministerial garb—not an S pointing to their superhuman strength but an S pointing to the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit? Does the Holy Spirit still empower preachers today? If so, how? Do we pray and study throughout our week like a Clark Kent, only to change into blue lights and a red cape on Sunday morning in hopeful expectation of something supernatural happening? Or do we begin our sermons as the mild-mannered Clark Kent, waiting expectantly for the Spirit to miraculously transform us at some point of the message into Superman, so we can fly out of the pulpit at high noon every week?
“Nonsense,” you may be saying to yourself, “preachers are just human beings like everybody else.” Yet in a 2004 Knight Rider news article on the Holy Spirit, one evangelical pastor had this to say about the role of the Holy Spirit in Christian’s life: “We are Clark Kent, but with the Holy Spirit, we become Superman.”
When I read a statement like that, immediately my childhood images of Superman come to mind: able to bend steel bars with his bare hands, able to see through walls with X-ray vision, able to lift massive objects with superhuman strength, able to leap tall buildings with a single bound, faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive. It’s a bird; it’s a plane; it’s … a Spirit-filled Christian? Talk of Christians turning into Superman via the power of the Holy Spirit may fit well with a culture obsessed with extreme makeovers, but it certainly has no foundation in Scripture. In fact, Paul’s self-assessment as a God-called, Spirit-filled preacher of the gospel stands in stark contrast to any Superman mentality: “I came to you in weakness and in fear, and with much trembling” (1 Cor. 2:3).
Paul doesn’t sound like Superman, does he? Yet in the next verse Paul affirms that underneath all his trembling and weakness, his preaching donned the S—not of Superman but of the Holy Spirit: “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom [not even Superman’s!], but on God’s power” (1 Cor. 2:4). Paul acknowledges that his powerful preaching is not from anything within himself; he plainly tells the Corinthians there is nothing special about him: “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants” (1 Cor. 3:5). It seems the Holy Spirit turned Paul into a servant rather than a Superman, and a weak one at that.
Furthermore, I cannot recall Superman boasting about his inherent weakness to kryptonite. To do so would lessen his superhero image. In contrast Paul not only admits his weaknesses; he boasts in them! “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:9).
Judging from the verses quoted above, Paul doesn’t sound like a superhero at all. Yet no honest reader of the New Testament would deny the power of God that accompanied Paul’s ministry of the Word. As pastors today, we live in a church culture filled with large egos, supersized pride, and superhero expectations—pressures the man of steel himself could not handle! Yet we must reject any notion that we are Superman called to be a superhero. The hero of our preaching is Jesus Christ, and our goal as preachers is to be Spirit filled and Spirit empowered so that our audience knows the difference between supernatural preaching and superhero preaching! Preaching is not an exhibition of the Superman skills you may have learned in seminary or at a seminar; rather, as Paul says, it is a demonstration of the Spirit’s power. If we know we want to end up with preaching that is Spirit-empowered, the question remains, “What path do we take to get there?”
As preachers we are quick to confess the need for the Spirit’s power in our preaching, but we fall short when it comes to explaining how to involve the Holy Spirit in our preaching. The fruit of evangelical publishing and scholarship over the last two decades demonstrates that as evangelicals we are far more able to tell what the Spirit does not do in preaching as opposed to what the Spirit must do if powerful proclamation is to take place. My conviction is that we have failed to connect the discipline of homiletics with the doctrine of pneumatology, and as a result we find ourselves “surprised by the Spirit” when he does move. Spirit-Led Preaching seeks to establish a positive theology of the Spirit’s role in preaching by building upon the theological fusion of Word and Spirit.
Written by Dr. Patrick Vossen, Founding Pastor of CGMF
Reverend Patrick Vossen,